Irene puts East Coast on alert for disaster

Town workers remove a parking hut near the beach in Atlantic Beach, N.C., Aug. 26, 2011, as Hurricane Irene heads toward the North Carolina coast.
AP Photo

Hurricane Irene sent authorities along the Eastern Seaboard scrambling to move residents out of harm's way and to prepare communities for heavy winds and massive amounts of rainfall that could lead to flooding.

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CBS News dispatched correspondents along the East Coast to report how areas were responding in advance of the storm. Here's what they found for "The Early Show" Friday:

(Watch the report each correspondent filed to the left of the summary of what's happening where they are)

In Kill Devil Hills, N.C., CBS News correspondent Mark Strassmann reports that, for emergency officials, Friday is the day for the hard sell, a blunt insistence and appeal to people to get moving. They're even asking holdouts for information about their next of kin in case it comes to that once Irene hurdles through. Most of the tourists are already gone, a huge help in keeping roads clear and traffic moving. In Ocean City, Md., CBS News correspondent Chip Reid reports that Friday's beautiful weather -- the calm before the storm -- makes it more difficult for police to convince residents to leave until it gets really ugly. For authorities, Irene brings back memories of the last hurricane to hit the capital region -- Isabelle -- almost eight years ago. Ocean City officials want the community evacuated by 5 p.m. ET. In Alexandria, Va., CBS News correspondent Whit Johnson reports that a direct hit is not expected in the area, but officials are still preparing for some possible flooding by cleaning out the storm drains. Still, at Naval Station Norfolk, Irene forced the Navy to send 27 ships out to sea to wait out the storm, including the USS Dwight Eisenhower and some destroyers and submarines. In Islip, N.Y., on Long Island, "Early Show" news anchor Jeff Glor reports that, while hurricanes don't usually hit the Northeast, some storms have made their mark, such as Floyd in 1999 and Bertha in 1996, which brought heavy rain and flooding to the New York area. But it's Gloria, in 1985, that holds the record for the strongest hurricane to strike the East Coast this far north.

Glorida made landfall on Long Island with wind gusts reaching up to 115 mph and left nearly 700,000 people without power, some for up to 11 days. The total price tag for Gloria? An estimated $900 million.

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  • Alex Sundby

    Alex Sundby is an associate news editor for